Olympic skeleton team accused of cheating

Olympic skeleton team accused of cheating
Germany's Frank Rommel in a file photo. Photo: DPA
The German skeleton team on Wednesday rejected cheating accusations from their Canadian rivals as a row erupted in the lead-up to the Winter Olympics.

The heats for the men’s event begin on February 18 at The Whistler Sliding Centre in Vancouver, but the Canadians have already turned up the heat by claiming the Germans are using a magnetic component on their sleds to create an unfair advantage.

Germany’s Frank Rommel and Sandro Stielicke were ranked second and third respectively in this winter’s World Cup series. Now their rival Jeff Pain, who took silver in Turin four years ago in a Canadian 1-2, has questioned whether their teams’ sleds are legitimate.

But the Germans insisted their equipment had been checked by the Materials Committee of the sport’s governing body FIBT (International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation) and there has never been a problem.

“The German team have been tested the most this winter by the authorities,” said team spokeswoman Margit Denglar-Paar with their six skeleton athletes – three male, three female – set to arrive here on Thursday. “They ran through the whole World Cup season with no problem. Pain questions the sled, but the testers have never said there are any problems with any of our sleds.”

Pain had earlier ignited the row.

“I know for a fact (the German team) have a magnetic component in their sleds and I question whether that’s legal,” Pain, who is currently ranked 10th in the world, told a press conference here. “I don’t know 100 percent how they use it. My belief is they are creating a magnetic field that provides damping, like shock absorbing. It’s right around the runner posts and I don’t know what it’s there for,

but it’s there for a reason. They wouldn’t put there if it didn’t do anything. If you read the rules it says you can’t have a magnetic field. ”

The German sleds are worrying the Canadians as Pain’s team-mate Jon Montgomery admitted.

“At this point, I believe we are behind the game a bit … I suspect (the Germans sleds) are completely legal – just superior in technology,” he said. “It doesn’t mean the difference between winning and losing, but (the Germans) will be a definite force to be reckoned with here. We’re going to have to work hard to take their medals from them.”

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